Text: Tatu Tamminen
One of the most refreshing elements in a marathon like the Sibelius violin competition is the freedom the competitor may experience when moving on to the second round. Compared to round one, there are more possibilities to perform repertoire of one's personal choices. The recital-like performance and full-fledged duo sessions are soul food for the performer as well as for the audience.
"The second round is considered a recital," says violin professor Jaakko Ilves, currently a member of the competition committee, and a former judge in the Sibelius Violin Competition. He feels a smart musician sticks to the solid choices without wandering off to all kinds of "cool" repertory. The teacher's responsibility is to maintain the balance between the student and the big piece. "If the student hangs on to a task that is already doomed, I always ask, 'Are you sure?' In tough situations I usually cave in."
This year's sonata assortment contains 21 works. "In the next competition I don't see why the choices couldn't be completely free, but it is hard to let go of the familiar patterns," Ilves says.
On Friday during the performances of Fedor Rudin and Stephen Tavani, it was noticable that choosing the sonata by Leoš Janáček gave some additional minutes to spare for other things. Pekko Pulakka, the first semi-finalist to perform, had a balanced feeling
"Here making the choices is like a puzzle, in which a certain type of a virtuoso piece makes you pick a different kind of sonata. Because of the duration aspect, the Prokofjev sonata demanded a shorter virtuoso piece by its side," Pulakka says about his own premises. A recital-like approach is his favorite game. His working with pianist Mikael Kemppainen is not limited to two stage sessions and rehearsing in the hall. Kemppainen is a frequent pianist at various domestic master classes. "I really enjoy playing chamber music with him. Mikael was my pianist also at the Kuopio violin competition. He has accompanied me to the gatherings of the Violin Academy four or five times a year."